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This week, I had a very frustrating conversation with some of my male peers about sexual assault. Several of them had been saying how afraid of hooking up with girls because they were scared of “accidentally” assaulting a woman and of being accused of sexually assaulting a woman. This fear confounded me. Yes, there are women who falsely accuse men of rape or sexual assault. Yes, those situations can be very tricky. However, to prevent that from happening, why don’t you just ask for consent before doing anything just to cover your bases? When I asked them this, they said two things: one, they don’t know what justifies as consent, and two, asking for consent isn’t sexy and ruins the mood.

I just wanted to take some time to discuss these two issues that I’m sure applies to many people. The male peers I was speaking to all attend Harvard with me. I was very shocked and very upset at their statement that they didn’t know what justified as consent because at the beginning of every semester, Harvard sends out a mandatory training module called “Supporting a Harassment-Free Community”. Every student must complete this online training before they can enroll in classes. Many Harvard students have admitted to skipping through this module, including the boys I was talking to. When I asked them why they skipped through it, they replied saying the information in the training module was common sense. This is so infuriating because they were just complaining about their fear of being falsely accused of assault because they did not know what justified as consent. Clearly, the training module is not common sense. Harvard Title XI carefully puts together this module so that we as Harvard students know how to create a safe environment for one another. So, here is my response to anyone’s concern over not knowing what constitutes consent: if you are a student, or employee of a reputable institution or employer, chances are, they will have a sexual harassment training. Universities have Title XI officers that are available to answer your questions. When in doubt, do the training module! Ask questions! By ignoring the resources that are provided to you, you are perpetuating the idea that sexual harassment and consent do not need to be taught.

The second issue, and most absurd, is that some people feel that asking for consent is not sexy and ruins the mood. I’m not sure how to debunk this myth other than by asking this: would you rather the slight possibility of ruining the mood or run the risk of sexual assault? The answer to this is pretty simple. Asking for consent takes a few seconds, and those few seconds are worth making sure everyone involved is feeling safe and comfortable! Not to mention, I don’t know anyone who has ever said they were turned off because someone asked them for consent! From my experiences, and what I have heard, asking for consent is sexy and a turn on. Who doesn’t want to feel safe and cared for? Even if this were untrue, the risk of ruining the mood is not worth the chance of sexual assault or harassment. If you are afraid of sexually assaulting someone or being falsely accused of sexual assault, just make sure you have consent before continuing! Sexual assault cannot happen if both parties are consenting.

Thus, I just want to end by saying that everyone needs to educate themselves on what consent is and how to get it. There are so many resources out there that can help you, especially if you are a college student. Regardless of whether or not consent is sexy, it is absolutely mandatory and necessary! That said, consent IS sexy! When all parties are safe, comfortable, and consenting, you have the sexiest scenario of all! 


*Here is a link to Harvard Title XI if you have any questions: https://titleix.harvard.edu/


I am a senior at Harvard College studying Applied Mathematics with a specialization in Economics, and I am planning on getting a language citation in Spanish. I am currently a co-president and campus correspondent of Harvard's chapter of Her Campus! I am also a committee chair of a student organization that works with University Health Services called HealthPALs (Peer Advisors and Liaisons). Additionally, I am a member and co-director of service in OAASIS (Organization of Asian American Sisters in Service). Apart from that, I spend a lot of my time as a Learning Lab Undergraduate Fellow at the Harvard Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. I am also the co-founder of a project at the Office of Diversity of Inclusion at Harvard. I am super passionate about math, health, and higher education! In my free time I love to work out, experiment with makeup and fashion, visit museums, and try new foods!
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